Mav Meets…. Chris Tedman, the new Managing Director of The Maverick Group

By Peri Lyon, 13 September 2021 | 8 mins read

Earlier this year, our Chief Operating Officer, Chris Tedman, became Managing Director of The Maverick Group. Having started as a Studio Manager, 11 years ago, he seen us through our growing pains – and remarkably, has stuck around for more. Taking over the reins of the day to day, Chris is focused on making a close team even closer and rewarding The Maverick Group’s owners for the faith they’ve placed in him. And if that wasn’t enough, Chris is also determined to win the esteem of his four young daughters… Meet a man on a mission.

You have been at The Maverick Group for over 11 years now, what changes have you seen over that time?

A great many… When I first joined there were about 20 staff in one room in London’s Leathermarket, and new job numbers were handwritten in a book. Since then, we’ve moved a couple of times, peaked at about 120 staff, spread out over six floors, and brought in modern systems and infrastructure (so no more handwritten job numbers you’ll be glad to know).

The business model has also changed. In 2010, we were mostly design, events and print based, making a margin on third party costs. Now we have a greater digital focus, we have in-housed the means of production (most notably film and edit facilities), expanded our offering to incorporate external advertising, strategy, transcreation, partnerships, experiential and product development, which has meant some big changes to the way we work and the systems we use.

The recent move to a group structure has also involved some structural and cultural change. But now we’re able to specialise in these new areas rather than being generalists. More about that later.

What are the biggest successes that you’ve had over the last 11 years?

The obvious ones are year-on-year growth (for most of that time), winning numerous awards for some brilliant campaigns, and featuring in The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 for two years. We’ve also been named Campaign’s second most profitable agency, which gives me a sense of achievement.

But there are more subtle things.

For example, I’m also very proud of the way we adapted to remote working overnight, with one client saying they hadn’t noticed any drop in service delivery. We managed this by planning for the worst before the worst happened, and by pulling together when it mattered.

What keeps you motivated at The Maverick Group?

The overarching motivation in my life is providing for my family. I want to succeed, and for them to be proud of me (I have four young daughters to impress, so no pressure!).

But on the day to day, I am driven to change and improve people’s experience through what we do. I’ve been given an opportunity to help The Maverick Group in the next stage of its evolution, which motivates me to prove to the owners and those that have faith in me, that they were right – and also prove the doubters wrong (I’m sure there are a few!).

I am driven to change and improve people’s experience through what we do.

Can you tell us about any of the changes that you’re likely to make in your new role as MD?

My aim is to make The Maverick Group one of, if not the, best place to work, so any changes that I make will be with that goal in mind. I know it can’t be achieved overnight or with one single improvement; but as a company we’ll take it step by step.

Company culture will be a major focus.

We need to be careful that the launch of a group proposition and hybrid working doesn’t harm our culture. That’s where our “In It Together” work ethic comes in. We want to enable our various specialisms to flourish, but at the same time ensure that The Maverick Group works as one.

With that in mind, we’ll be launching an employee engagement programme in the coming months that will give staff the opportunity to mix with teams they wouldn’t normally work with, and get the team behind our vision, values and what we offer as a business.

My aim is to make The Maverick Group one of, if not the, best place to work, so any changes that I make will be with that goal in mind.

What have you learned from the operational sphere that will help you succeed in the new Managing Director role?

Honestly, I’m not sure. Having worked in operations all my career, I don’t know any different. So I imagine I will be an operational focused MD.

I suppose I always want to peel away the drama and look at issues in a pragmatic way. I am able to spot inefficiencies, identify root causes and find solutions quickly. I think every problem has an answer, and I enjoy finding it. Perhaps having worked in Creative Services and Studios, it comes naturally!

And what do you believe makes a good leader?

In my mind, a good leader is decisive, takes responsibility when things don’t go to plan, and is quick to praise the team when things go well.

A good leader listens to their team, and trusts them to do the job they were employed to do, but are always on hand to help and guide when needed. They give honest, timely feedback, both good and developmental. And they remain calm and fair at all times, however stressful things might be.

You feel they have your back; good leaders show kindness and empathy. They also adapt as circumstances change.

Most of all, a good leader will inspire and motivate you to do the best you can for them and the company.

How will you support the growth of The Maverick Group?

I believe that investing in Maverick’s culture, getting behind a shared vision and living by our values will lead to further commercial success.

Yes, I know – it all sounds a bit management-speak. But if I can help the talented people around me to give their best, it can only lead to good things: better work, greater job satisfaction, better customer service and an enhanced reputation, which in turn, will result in more client wins, higher retention and continued growth. And that works for everyone.

In my mind, a good leader is decisive, takes responsibility when things don’t go to plan, and is quick to praise the team when things go well.

And what do you think are the most exciting growth areas for the Group?

By setting out our stall as specialists in a number of areas, I can see each team having the potential for growth in their own right. And of course, any growth is exciting. Once clients and brands work with us at our best, then cross selling our specialist services will come naturally.

With our experience with DHL, we are also in a marvellous position to take advantage of the global surge in eCommerce, so watch this space.

As a company leader, what are the values that you’d like to try and instil in the business?

My favourite values that we look for in our Mavericks (yes, I have favourites) are ‘In It Together’ and ‘That’ll Do Will Never Do’.

As I said before, the former is very important for company culture especially as we move into a group structure, and as our workforce has a more flexible ‘work from home’ policy.

I see “That’ll Do Will Never Do” as a mindset. Jamie Bell our ECD says that a great idea may happen in the first hour of a creative team’s one week of ideation. The rest of that week is spent trying to find better ideas, improve on that idea. We shouldn’t accept the first acceptable idea, or the minimum viable product. We should be looking to produce the best possible work, the most defining insight, strive for perfection… only then can we all truly be proud of what we do.

Personally, as a company leader, I’d like to demonstrate trust, fairness and respect for all. The fundamentals. They never go out of fashion.

If you had to narrow it down to just one, what would be your overarching goal for The Maverick Group?

To make us a destination agency for talent. Everything else will follow: more awards, more fantastic clients, continued growth and with that commercial success.

So that’s Chris: the big cheese, the top dog, the head honcho – dedicated to the team, and a Maverick to the bone. He’s part of an all-star cast of agency talent that we’ll be meeting over the coming months, as part of our Mav Meets series. So, stay tuned for more Maverick masterminds or if you’re interested to learn more about us or become a Maverick yourself, get in touch.